Nov 17, 2016 - Sale 2432

Sale 2432 - Lot 178

Price Realized: $ 13,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 12,000 - $ 18,000
(JUDAICA.) Cardozo, Isaac N. A Discourse Delivered in Charleston . . . before the Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting True Principles of Judaism According to its Purity and Spirit. 18 pages plus final blank. 8o, later plain wrappers; minor foxing to title page only. Charleston, SC, 1827

Additional Details

The Reformed Society of Israelites, founded in 1824, was the first Reform congregation in America. Facing heavy resistance from the more established Sephardic Charleston congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, they disappeared as a separate entity by 1838, but many of their practices were absorbed into the older group. This discourse by member Isaac Nunez Cardozo (1793-1855) was delivered on the Reformed Society's third anniversary. He spoke forcefully on behalf of its core principles: "The spirit of reform in all existing institutions is abroad, and its march is onward and irresistible. Future generations, therefore, will not have to regret that state of mental imbecility . . . which acted in times gone by." He called his congregation "a society that was instituted mainly for effecting the observance of order and decorum in Hebrew worship: for adapting it to the feelings and propensities of the enlightened Israelite of the present day," noting that "the Hebrew language, alone, is but little, if at all understood by the congregation." He also offers "thanks to the age in which we live, that is daily recording its conquests over bigotry" (page 11).
With that in mind, consider that although Cardozo was born a Sephardic Jew, he is perhaps best known today the ancestor of a distinguished African-American family. Between 1828 and 1838, he fathered six children by his common-law wife, Lydia Weston or Williams. She was a freed African-American woman; they were forbidden to marry by law. Their son Francis Lewis Cardozo (1836-1903) became Secretary of State for South Carolina in 1868--the first African-American elected to statewide office in the country. Two of their great-grandchildren founded the renowned Cardoza Sisters beauty salons in Washington, DC, while another became the wife of Paul Robeson. Rosenbach 289 (locating only one copy, in a private collection); Shaw & Shoemaker 28385; Singerman 0442. 2 copies in OCLC. Only one other copy known at auction, which hammered at $82,000 in 2014.